Archive | April 2013

Swords of the Caribbean: I hate packing, yes I do, I hate packing, how ’bout you?

This is a beast of a post but it’s informative and detailed and well, some of you asked for this so I hope you like it! ¬†ūüôā

Packing is the devil. ¬†It causes me the most terrible anxiety that falls somewhere in between being a car with someone who looks like they are about to puke (high anxiety) and waiting for the bus at night (low anxiety). ¬†I’m going to share the details of what I packed for our ten-day honeymoon, explaining what we used and what I didn’t use. ¬†AND OF COURSE, I will tell you ALL ABOUT THE DRESSES! ¬†ūüôā

WE BROUGHT IT, WE USED IT:

Sunscreen- Like I said in my first honeymoon post, we bought seven bottles and used every last drop in all of them!  We almost had to buy more but the resort prices made us ration our supply and the last few days we used less and less.

Bug spray- We brought two bottles, came back with plenty left but were so relieved to have had some because the bugs got really bad at night, especially on days where it had rained.  And we still ended up with quite a few bites despite the spray!

Swimsuits- I brought five bikinis and one tankini (for the excursion day) for our ten-day trip and I wore them all multiple times!! ¬†My tip would be to bring as many suits as half the days in your trip. Example, 8 day vacation = 4 swimsuits. ¬†That way, you can change suits based on pool, hot tub, and ocean, and you’ll always have something dry to wear!

Mr.Sword took this pic of my pale body trying to catch some rays.

Mr.Sword took this pic of my pale body trying to catch some rays.

Mr. Sword (under my tutelage) brought four pairs of trunks and it was a good thing too because one of his got ruined in the hot tub after a cleaning where they used some type of chemical that wasn’t all dissolved apparently! ¬†Mr. Sword is a minimalistic packer and I think he was shocked to realize he needed so many, but his trunks could double as shorts so he was able to wear them everywhere!

Cover-ups- ¬†I brought four but I suggest bringing more than I did! ¬†One of the strings ripped off my white one the first time I wore it which meant I was down to three until I bought a gorgeous wrap at the gift shop. ¬†I was actually looking to buy a wrap in Chicago before we left but there weren’t many options. ¬†I’m glad I waited because I love that my wrap so much and it will remind me of our Jamaican honeymoon every time I wear it!

DSCF1566

Cover-ups are crucial because they go on and off easier than dresses, they are more inexpensive so you don’t mind getting sand and ocean water on them, and they are extremely light-weight, and not confining at all. I probably wore a cover-up to almost every breakfast and lunch while on the resort.

Shoes- 4 pairs of flip-flops, two cheapo pairs, one nicer neutral pair, and one black wedge pair.  One pair of nude heels that matched almost all my dresses!  One pair of neutral strappy sandals.  One pair of boat shoes/loafer-type things for the days we traveled.  Mr. Sword brought one pair of flip-flops (and wore them constantly), his everyday shoes, and his dress shoes for our fancy dinner.

Water Shoes- Yes, they get their own section because Mr. Sword told me we shouldn’t bother with them but I bought us each a pair anyway (from Target) and we were lucky we had them because to walk up the Dunn River Falls you must have water shoes which means we would have had to buy or rent some while there.

Dresses-¬†I brought ten dresses and wore nine of them plus one I bought while I was at the resort. ¬†I wore a different dress every evening and sometimes two in one day! ¬†And I’m pretty sure I only wore one of my dresses more than once. ¬†Overall, I was VERY pleased with my dress selections and since so many of you asked about them I am going to do my best to give as much information as possible and provide links that may or may not take you to the exact dress.

You’ll soon find out my secret shopping spots are TJ Maxx and Marshalls. ¬†They sort of blend together in my head so excuse me for lumping them together. ¬†Unfortunately they have a quick turnover of merchandise so my guess is most of these dresses won’t be available anymore, but it might be worth a shot!

First up a chambray shirt dress from Old Navy. ¬†Perfect for throwing over a swimsuit and wearing to the spa although I’m wearing it to a restaurant in this photo.

IMG_1998

honeymoon dresses ONE

(Going left to right.)

Long gray dress.  Perfect for our comfy casual first night in Negril.  TJ Maxx/Marshalls.

Coral striped dress with matching cardigan. ¬†Worn for a dinner date. ¬†Loft. ¬†(You’ll see this dress was bought for a different event and worn again on the honeymoon once I start my wedding recaps.)

Spaghetti-strap swimsuit material dress.  Perfect for wearing during the day because it can get wet and dry quickly.  Tommy Bahama.  NOTE: Everything in Tommy Bahama is made for a beach vacation and if I had unlimited funds I would have bought everything in the store!

honeymoon dresses TWO

Navy halter dress. ¬†A bit on the shorter side so it’s best for a really hot day. ¬†Pitya. ¬†(A few years ago.)

Modest white dress originally purchased for my bridal shower in MN.  Great for photos on the beach.   White House Black Market.  Not available anymore but any white dress for a beach vacation is a must-have!

Bright tropical cotton dress.  Perfect for lunch in the sand.  No clue where I bought it but my first two guesses are TJ Maxx and Marshalls!

honeymood dresses THREE

Sexy low-cut bright blue dress.  Worn to a fancy dinner.  TJ Maxx/Marshalls.

The most asked about dress I wore… a coral top with linen bottom. ¬†Great for daytime and evening (if only it didn’t wrinkle so much)! ¬†And big surprise here, TJ Maxx/Marshalls for the win! ¬†I got it a few months ago. ¬†The brand isn’t a name I recognize but maybe it’s still around somewhere??

Jamaican colors dress.  Casual and cool, I bought this from the gift shop at Sandals as a souvenir and I love it!

And finally, my favorite dress of the whole trip and the one I wore to our private candlelight dinner on the beach:

DSCF1640

Maxi dress with stripes on top and floral print on the bottom. ¬†This dress is from a store called 2b and I couldn’t find the exact version but here is something similar.

WE BROUGHT IT, WE DIDN’T NEED IT:

Tennis shoes-  Umm, hiking much on the beach?  Noobs.  We thought we would need walking shoes but they were unnecessary at our resort.

A floppy hat- Wore it once but it was too windy and it kept falling off.  Plus, I felt dumb and no one else was wearing one.  I guess I will forever not be a hat person.  Mr. Sword on the other hand bought a Usain Bolt ball cap the first day we were there and wore it the entire rest of the trip!

A purse/satchel I bought this beautiful Coach satchel to carry around my personal stuff in but never used it, NOT ONCE. ¬†Luckily, it’s great for everyday life so I’m going to hang on to it, but don’t be stupid like me! ¬†You will never carry a purse. ¬†Your hotel room is so close and your husband will have pockets for your camera (and you shouldn’t be bringing your phone anyway!). ¬†For carrying things to the beach, we used an inexpensive thin backpack thingy.

Shorts- As a girly girl and a Northerner with limited hot weather supply, I couldn’t get enough of my dresses! ¬†I tried to wear my shorts one day but they felt way too tight so I immediately took them off. ¬†I did however, wear a skirt one afternoon.

Cash- Obviously you need some cash on you but don’t bring as much as you would normally take on a vacation. ¬†At a Sandals resort everything is charged to a credit card and all you need to know is your room number. ¬†We ended up paying cash for the photos we bought but they prefer you charge everything. ¬†I feel like I can control cash better but it’s nice to know that in the future we don’t have to fly with hundreds of dollars like we did this time!

PHEW! ¬†I’m exhausted. ¬†Does anyone have any additional packing tips or ideas? ¬†What item did you lug around but never use on your honeymoon?

(all photos personal)

Hive, I’m so PUMPED to start my wedding recaps but am still waiting on all of my photographs. ¬†That said, I’m hoping to be back in a few weeks (or less)! ¬†Until then, happy wedding planning! ¬†Bee.back.soon.

XOXO,

Mrs. Sword

Advertisements

Swords of the Caribbean: The “To Do” List

Yesterday I shared my “avoid” list¬†and today it’s time for the equally ¬†exciting sequel! ¬†These are the Sword¬†recommendations¬†for getting the most out of your amazing beach vacation.

DO THIS:

Do get up early to reserve chairs. ¬†The simple truth is there are more people than there are prime lounging locations and to get a spot near the beach under a little canopy or right next to a pool you gotta wake up early. ¬†Mr. Sword and I quickly learned that 7 AM wasn’t early enough so we set our alarms for 5:30 AM (punch me in the face) and took turns going to reserve our spots.

We gave up on trying to save towels and used my flip flops and a pink t-shirt instead.

We gave up on trying to save towels and used my flip-flops and a pink t-shirt instead.

Most mornings we were able to go back to sleep for a bit but some days we took a lazy nap around 1 PM.  Naps are fun in Jamaica, not so much in real life.  Mrs. Mink touched on this in her post about Jamaica too which I read luckily read before we went, so thanks for the tip Mink!

A view of the seating area by the beach and a squinty Mr. Sword.

A view of the seating area by the beach and a squinty Mr. Sword.

Do get a couple’s massage. ¬†Because why the hell not? ¬†Mr. Sword is the type of guy who LOVES massages but who refuses to let his wife massage him. ¬†Why you ask? ¬†He thinks I’m just roughly poking him and I think he just can’t handle my awesomeness. ¬†So we leave it to the professionals, and it’s sexy. ¬†The robes, the nudity, the side by side breathing, the low-lighting and sweet-smelling room, it’s all gooood. ¬†And if there is a spa on your resort you should really check it out! ¬†I also did a seaweed wrap because we had a credit to the spa leftover from our package which was fun but slightly less so because I wasn’t with my man (awww I know, so cute you wanna puke).

Posing near the beautiful fountain outside Red Lane Spa.

Posing near the beautiful fountain outside Red Lane Spa.

Do get a room facing the ocean. ¬†I’m so happy Mr. Sword splurged on the ocean side view room (and concierge services for that matter) because I can’t imagine going all the way to Jamaica and staring at a building or your typical garden all week. ¬†We were on the second floor and used our balcony often but probably could have enjoyed it even more!

I feel like I have a slight tan in this picture.  Success!

I feel like I have a slight tan in this picture. Success!

The best part was having a few private breakfasts on the balcony while still being outside and staring at the beautiful Jamaican beach.

I took all inclusive to mean order enough for three people at each sitting because there's no immediate bill!

I took all-inclusive to mean order enough for three people at each sitting because there’s no immediate bill!

Do try to wear lingerie as much as possible. ¬†And no, I don’t have photos of this part you freaks! ¬†ūüôā ¬†Sorry if this is TMI but I think I might have brought more lingerie than swimsuits and my reasoning was this, 1) ¬†I had just received a ton of it as gifts so most items were new and never before seen by Mr. Sword and 2) I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of opportunity for sexy beach vacations like this in the future and I wanted to make it special. ¬†It was our honeymoon after all!

Do go for the concierge package.  From the minute you arrive you get whisked away to a special air-conditioned room for check-in that is only for concierge guests.  They book all of your reservations for you, including dinner, spa, and any excursions you want to plan.  But my favorite perks have to be the free mini bar complete with water bottles, pop, wine, beer, and hard liquor, and the complimentary robes in our room.

Comfy Swords relaxing.

Comfy Swords relaxing.

Do have one special and private candlelit dinner on the beach if the budget allows. ¬†This was an evening I’ll never forget. ¬†The food was amazing, the woman serving us was adorable and kind, and I was alone with my love on the beach in Negril. ¬†We reminisced about our trip, our amazing wedding, and dreamed about our future. ¬†Mr. Sword being the smart guy he is had us book our special dinner for TWO nights before we left so we didn’t have to spend our last night packing after our romantic meal. ¬†Such a good call!

Part of the package included a bottle of champagne and a rose for the lady!

Part of the package included a bottle of champagne and a rose for the lady!

Do explore the freebies. ¬†We took a boat ride in the glass bottom boat to view some fish and coral, we ¬†took the two-person kayak out and tried our hand at the water trike (which was super lame btw). ¬†We were going to go snorkeling which was included as well but Mr. Sword ended up with too much water in his ears and we didn’t want to make him even more uncomfortable.

Our favorite photographer Dale sneakily snapped this pic of us!

Our favorite photographer Dale sneakily snapped this pic of us!

There you have it, the Sword honeymoon!  We had a great trip with mostly beautiful weather (it rained a few of the days) and made so many wonderful memories.  Even though we kept to ourselves a lot of the time, we still managed to meet some great new friends that we hope to run into again some day!

I highly recommend going the all-inclusive route if you enjoy things like not carrying your own bags, gluttonous eating, reading on the beach, and doing a lot of nothing!

This is my favorite.

This is my favorite.

(photos by Sandals Snap Shots or personal to the Swords)

Next up, I’m gonna close the Sword honeymoon series with a request! ¬†I’m going to share my packing list and detail what I actually used and what wasn’t worth bringing. ¬†Hopefully this will help those of you gearing up for your moons!

Swords of the Caribbean: The “Avoid” List

I’d like to start with my “avoid” list so I can end on a positive note tomorrow with all the positives of our sunny beach vacation! ¬†Plus, I’m a whiner at heart. ¬†So here we go…

Sporting my new Jamaica dress!

Sporting my new Jamaican inspired dress!

AVOID THIS:

Avoid going to a Sandals resort on Reunion Week because your neighbors will be predominately middle-aged and older couples who have been there many times before making you and your partner look like all-inclusive resort noobs. ¬†They’ll know the ropes, they’ll get all the good seats, and worst of all the resort will focus on celebrating anniversaries instead of honeymoons. ¬†Seriously, every little reception we went to was focused on who’d been married the longest! ¬†I’m a bit of an attention whore and as it was our honeymoon I was excepting some perks. ¬†Don’t expect perks. ¬†Especially on reunion week. ¬†Expect lots of sage married advice instead.

Sexy Mr. Sword in our posing in our room

Sexy Mr. Sword posing in our room

Avoid showering at all costs. ¬†I quickly learned that the showers had two settings, freezing, and somewhat luke warm, and don’t even get me started on the lack of pressure. ¬†I prefer my shower water to beat me aggressively at a scalding hot temperature.

In front of the main pool one evening
In front of the main pool one evening

Avoid doing day trips and leaving the resort or at the very least keep them to a minimum.  We did one excursion to walk up the Dunn River Falls (beautiful) and kiss a dolphin (amazing) but we were gone from 8 am to 8 pm and it was such a long day that consisted mostly of traveling!

We were in a bus for a total of seven hours because we had to pick up about 14 other couples from different Sandals resorts’ in Montego Bay on our way to Ochos Rios. ¬†It was really fun and entertaining on the way there because our tour guide taught us tons of information about the history of Jamaica but by the time we headed home later that day I was ready to plop into bed from exhaustion (especially after days of doing nothing).

This is what we were missing when we were on that bus.  Bliss.

This is what we were missing when we were on that bus. Bliss.

Avoid the resort photographers. ¬†Unless you’re like me and love getting your picture taken, it’s best to politely decline after a while because they will ask you EVERY SINGLE DAY. ¬†Mr. Sword and I took photos almost all ten days (because I wanted pics in all my outfits) and he was a trooper but he was getting really sick of it. ¬†We ended up making friends with one photographer in particular and tried to seek him out by the end of our time in Negril. ¬†And hey, if it weren’t for Dale we wouldn’t have beautiful shots like this:

photo by Dale from Snap Shots in Sandals Negril

photo by Dale from Snap Shots in Sandals Negril

Aren’t we awkward cute all wrapped up in a palm tree?

Avoid the bland buffet and eat at the nicer restaurants.  The buffet is nice because you can eat as much as your heart desires (and boy did my heart desire some food) but the restaurants that have a wait staff and menu seemed to have a much better cuisine.

quantity yes but not quality

quantity yes but not so much quality

Avoid technology (which we did successfully I might add!) so you can enjoy your partner and ALL of this:

DSCF1568

IMG_2000

DSCF1604

DSCF1617

IMG_1960

Next up I’ll share all the stuff you MUST do while at an all-inclusive resort and share more pics from our trip!

(all photos personal)

Can you relate to anything on my list?  Anything else that should be avoided?

Swords of the Caribbean: My Big Fat Jamaican Honeymoon

Damn it feels good to be back!  Hi hive, long time no blog.  The Swords are back from their first beach vacation and they are the epitome of bronze gods.  False.  They only managed a wee tan (that has since left them) and one good day of sunburn (OK, that was just me).

Day One: Really White

510402292

Day Ten: Less White

510408118

Back in June of 2012 Mr. Sword booked us a wonderful package at Sandals Negril in stunning Jamaica. ¬†He made a fabulous choice and we really enjoyed our beautiful home away from home on the famous 7 mile beach at an all-inclusive couple’s oasis. ¬†It was an amazing ten days!

Well, an amazing 8 days anyway. ¬†The first day I spent gawking at other couples (I’m a people watcher) and trying to make a schedule while squinting from the sun, and the last day I spent dreaming of my own bed and a shower with some power.

Am I the only person who thinks ten days is really freaking long?!?! ¬†ūüôā ¬†I kid. ¬†Kinda. ¬†I’m a person who is constantly on the go and while I love relaxing on the couch after a long day, I have trouble doing nothing for days on end. ¬†It’s a habit I never really learned as a kid, just like ironing and sports.

The absolute BEST part of the vacation was spending so much quality time with Mr. Sword. ¬†And it’s wonderful to be so happily in love after all these month of marriage. ¬†(Sorry for the dumb jokes but I’m just giddy to be back!) ¬†ūüôā

930407027

In all seriousness we had a blast laying side by side in lounge chairs next to the ocean and walking hand in hand on the beach. ¬†We loved getting dressed up to visit all the different restaurants, flirting (with each other) in the pools, and cuddling up together in the hot tub. ¬†It was a wonderful ten days and I know I haven’t been that relaxed in a loooong time.

930407094

If you’re wondering why there’s all of these professionally posed photos of us it’s because we spent a bazillion dollars for the rights to them and that means I must post as many of them as possible!

510408213

I was planning to go into detail about each day of our honeymoon but it would get pretty redundant fast (we ate, we went to the beach, we ate, we went to the pool, we ate, repeat) so instead I’m going to share a “to avoid” list and a “to do” list in my next two posts. ¬†Hopefully they are helpful to those of you still planning your honeymoons and entertaining to the rest off you!

140405177

Fun facts in rapid succession with little to no explanation:

We arrived in Negril with seven full cans/bottles of sunscreen and used every last one of them.

I kept my phone off the entire time and never went online so our unplugged honeymoon was a success.

The Jamaican people are amazing and it was great getting to know some of them.

I ate a disgustingly large plate of nachos almost every single day and I drank alcohol constantly without ever really getting too tipsy.

930407007

(all photos taken by Snap Shots of Sandals Negril)

Are you considering going to Jamaica or another Caribbean island for your honeymoon?  IS ten days a long time or am I a crazy person?